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article imageDenmark rolls out the welcome mat for returning Jihadists

By Martin Laine     Oct 25, 2014 in World
While officials in many western countries are wringing their hands over what to do about those citizens who want to return after fighting with one of the extremist groups in Syria and Iraq, Denmark welcomes its returning Jihadists with open arms.
Known as the “Aarhus Model,” named after the city where the idea was developed, the rehabilitation program helps returning fighters find jobs, schooling, and offers counseling, according to an article in The Local.
“Our main principle is inclusion,” said Prof. Preben Bertelsen, who had a major role in developing the Aarhus model, in an article on the Newsweek website. “We’re not stigmatizing them or excluding them. Instead, we tell them we can help them get an education, get a job, re-enter society.”
Though the Scandinavian nation only has a population of 5.6 million, it’s estimated that 100 Danes have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq. That makes it the second highest per capita number of any country in Europe. Belgium has the highest.
Fearing that returning Jihadists could mount terrorist attacks in their home countries, many governments have instituted punitive measures to keep that from happening, ranging from revoking passports to arrests and incarceration.
Last month, Belgium put 46 returning fighters on trial. By contrast, not a single Danish Jihadist has been put on trial.
For those who stray from the rehabilitation program, there is an enforcement program in place.
“We will also hit hard with concrete consequences for those who continue down the wrong path,” said Justice Minister Karen Hakkerup in a press release last month. “We will take resident permits. And Danish citizens will be imprisoned.”
“Denmark is at the forefront of how to prevent the Jihadist problem,” said Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert at Sweden’s Defense College.
Both in and out of Denmark, there is a lot of skepticism over this soft-glove approach.
“They are being much too soft, and they fail to see the problem,” said Marie Krarup, a member of Parliament from the Danish People’s Party, in the Newsweek article. “The problem is Islam. Islam itself is radical. You cannot integrate a great number of Muslims in a Christian country.
“To call these efforts misguided seems an understatement,” reads an article on The American Interest website.
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